How to Pollinate Orchid Flowers

Overview

The orchid is such a large and varied species of flowering plants that even Charles Darwin was amazed at the variety of orchids in existence. Darwin even observed in his book, "On the Various Contrivances by which British and Foreign Orchids are Fertilized by Insects," that mankind didn't have enough imagination to dream of all the forms that orchids took, or the ways in which they reproduce. In the wild, orchids pollinate by tricking insects, birds and even moths into spreading their pollen. But commercial orchids may be pollinated by human caretakers.

Step 1

Wait until your orchid flower has finished opening.

Step 2

Examine your orchid to familiarize yourself with its parts. A typical orchid has reproductive parts located at the top of a column at the tip of a stem. These reproductive parts are hidden by cup-shaped petals known as sepals. The sepals are usually surrounded by the orchid's flat petals.

Step 3

Gently pull the sepals apart enough to look inside at the reproductive parts at the top of the column. Near the top of the column is an opening known as the stigma. Above that, at the top of the column is a membrane-like cap known as the anther. If you were to remove that membrane, you would find two sets of stamens, which are known as pollinia. The pollinia are coated in dust that is known as pollen.

Step 4

Peel off the anther cap from your orchid with forceps to reveal the orchid's pollinia.

Step 5

Maneuver the toothpick into the center of the orchid and touch the toothpick to the pollinia to transfer pollen dust to it. Pollen is sticky and should come off on the toothpick.

Step 6

Touch the toothpick to the stigma to transfer the pollen to it. Try to position the pollen as close to the entry of the stigma channel as possible.

Things You'll Need

  • Forceps
  • Wooden toothpick
  • Orchid plant

References

  • Ionopsis: Orchid Pollination
  • Beautiful Orchids: What is an Orchid
  • Lottie and Thomas Orchids: How can I get some seeds ?

Who Can Help

  • The Canadian Orchid Congress: Pollination of Orchid Flowers
  • What is an Orchid?
  • Orchid Information: What is an Orchid?
Keywords: Orchid care, plant propagaton, tropical flowers

About this Author

After 10 years experience in writing, Tracy S. Morris has countless articles and two novels to her credit. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets" and "CatFancy," as well as the "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World," and several websites.